10 Reasons to be proud to be working in Tech in France

10 Reasons to be proud to be working in Tech in France

Last week, Adobe bought Neolane, a marketing technology company, for $600M in order to beef up its Adobe Marketing Cloud offer. Sorry, let me repeat that. Six hundred million dollars, for a company that is twelve years old. Sure, maybe you hadn’t heard that much about Neolane before the day they got bought, and maybe Adobe isn’t the coolest company in the world, but this is a technology company getting bought, for a lot of money.

It seems that French entrepreneurs spend more time complaining about the mishaps and misfortunes than boasting about their successes, so I propose that we take a minute to look at ten tech feats that French entrepreneurs, developers, investors and the government can be proud of. Feel free to tweet any one of them

1) Adobe bought a French Marketing Technology company for $600M – biggest European acquisition of the year? %CODE1%


Seriously – this IS a big deal. If people spent as much time talking about this and the many other amazing exits French companies have had this year as they have talked about famous flops like the Yahoo-Dailymotion affair, we’d change how people think about France.

2) Sparrow got bought by Google over a year ago, and people are still trying to find a replacement iPhone mail app. %CODE2%


Gmail for iOS still takes forever to load if you have a bad internet connection, Mailbox was bought before they even got their compose window correct, and the only complaint people have about Sparrow is “it won’t get any new updates.” This is true, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best choise out there.

3) France has its own dedicated lobbying group for Startups & VCs, and they are actually influencing decisions. %CODE3%


Having a heavy-handed government might seem daunting, but not when you have a lobbying association that has actually made an impact on the government’s policy towards venture capital and innovative SMEs. One year-old as of tomorrow, France Digitale is making strides by presenting facts to the government. Facts they can’t ignore.

4) EVERY Silicon Valley tech company has at least one French Developer – Can you say that about London or Berlin? %CODE4%

Pixar hires designers directly out of University, the San Francisco & Paris mayors hang out, and there’s nothing Californians want more than to drink wine, eat great cheese, and go shopping – we’re basically the same people!

5) France arguably is at its worst economic state since WWII, and we still have more investments that Germany. BooYa. %CODE5%

Numbers don’t lie, bitches. French startups received more investment than German startups in 2012. All that despite the government – imagine what will happen when this country inevitably turns pro small-business.

6) Some countries have world-renowned engineering schools – France has 10, and they are all in Paris. #PlentyofDevs %CODE6%

Epitech, Epita, ESCP, Polytechnique, SciencesPo, Mines, Arts et Metiers, SudParis, HEC – I can name 7 off the top of my head from which I’ve seen great entrepreneur emerge. They’re all withinin spitting distance of Paris.

7) Chrome for iOS’s development is done in Google’s Paris office, with Sparrow founder Dominique Leca on the team. %CODE7%


Google Dublin’s just a sales hub, and Google London’s a coworking space. In Paris, we’re building shit.

8) French startups have trouble marketing products they’ve built. Most startups have trouble building real products. %CODE8%


It’s a shame when a great technology is lost because the founders can’t find a way to commercialize it – it’s even worse when you try a product that seems perfect, and turns out to be nothing more than shining lights and buzzers.

I’d rather have to teach French engineers to hire American marketing guys than have to teach marketers to build stuff.

9) France is the number one tourist destination in the world – makes it pretty easy to attract great talent! %CODE9%


Don’t forget – humans like coming here. When the name of the game is attracting foreign talent to come work for you, having a city that is known for being awesome to visit isn’t the worst thing in the world.

10) French startupers get to build awesome companies while living in the best country on earth! %CODE10%


Say what you want about government and taxes, you have to love where you work in order to build great things. Fresh bread, great wine, the best cheese, and beautiful women. There’s a reason successful entrepreneurs STAY in France: there’s no better country on the planet to live.

So take a minute to remember, while you’re reading about economic crisis and bad government decisions, that despite all that, France is still a fantastic place to live, and a fantastic place to start a company. Have a little #FrenchTechPride!


13 Responses

  1. Martin Castellan

    This article isn’t about France. It’s about Paris.

    • Liam Boogar

      What you mean to say is “What about the people outside of Paris doing Tech in France, don’t we count, too?” and my answer is Yes, you do.

      Don’t reject Paris because you don’t live there. It’s very nationalist, in a sector that must be global to succeed. Use Paris to your advantage – no one cares if you’re in Montreuil or Marseilles… if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I liked to surf because i’m from California.. you use it to your advantage instead of rejecting it in search of some higher identity.

    • Anne de Forsan (@adeforsan)

      Couldn’t agree more with you, Liam!

  2. Pierre Chapuis

    > “world-renowned engineering schools” […] “Epitech, Epita, ESCP, Polytechnique, SciencesPo, Mines, Arts et Metiers, SudParis, HEC”

    So your definition for a “world-renowned engineering school” is “I can think of an entrepreneur who studied there”?

    I mean, HEC and SciencesPo are not even engineering schools. And putting “SudParis” in the list when it’s the 3rd in reputation its own group (Institut Télécom) and the 1st (Télécom ParisTech) is not included in the list… And no Centrale Paris or ENS…

    • Liam Boogar

      Solid point, Pierre – but why take the negative route when you can look at it positively: these are just SOME of the great schools here. Why make enemies when we’re all working together?

    • Jean dupond

      I really enjoy your blog, this article has a lot of valid points, but every time you speak of french’s “engineer school” it’s a big laugh. I will add Epitech to Pierre list of non engineering school.

    • Pierre Chapuis

      I didn’t want to troll on Epitech. They’re not an “École d’Ingénieurs” according to French legislation but in the US they would probably be called an engineering school.

    • Pierre Chapuis

      You’re right, I’m probably too negative here, and your main point is valid: we can still do great things in France (despite terrible regulation, but that’s another topic).

      I definitely don’t want to make enemies. I agree with a lot of things you said, I just didn’t really see the point of saying that yes, Neolane is a large acquisition, France Digitale is a very good thing & there are lots of French developers in the Valley 🙂 Although sadly I am not sure that last point is really in favor of tech made *in* France rather than tech made *by* French expats…

      On education, we do have an interesting system but it’s really not proven to be any better than our neighbor’s. We have a lot of engineering schools, but most of them train few students, so overall I’m not sure we win. Our strength is that (in Grandes Écoles) we probably have better basic scientific training than in most countries, but I think we’re often lagging behind in terms of professional specialization (i.e. MSc level). I don’t know about PhDs, except that they’re not well considered in the professional world here compared to e.g. UK or the US.

      Also, I agree with Olivier on #10: Paris is too expensive compared to e.g. Berlin. I actually think a city like Nantes may be a better place to found a startup these days (less than 1.5h from Paris by train soon, booming ecosystem, cheaper rents).

      And, also like Olivier, I agree that point #8 is the one that will make anybody who knows the French ecosystem smile because it is strikingly true. And also maybe another reason why HEC and SciencePo should not be in that list of schools 🙂

    • Iban Mutu

      It’s not about who has the better system, it’s only about we have a good system. Everything is cultural and contextual and can’t apply world wide. Just be pride of what you have 🙂

  3. Olivier Issaly (@oissaly)

    Thanks for this list, some good points indeed, love the #8 🙂

    On #9 and #10 though, regarding paris specifically, unfortunately the cost of living makes it difficult to convince people to come from abroad, we experienced that several times. It can slow the capacity to build an international team.

  4. Antoine Angot (@Oaa)

    “I’d rather have to teach French engineers to hire American marketing guys than have to teach marketers to build stuff.”
    Haha, so true. By the way, any bored american marketing guys reading this ?

  5. Khaloud D (@DKhaloud)

    Great article Liam ! I am actually surprised that I agree with all the points !

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.